Yesterday, we had a large black bunch of mint in the fridge, some sticky soggy parsley and a clump of basil that had seen better days. Add to that a hard rind of cheese and you can see why everyone wants to come to lunch here… I decided to whack it all in the blender and see if I could raise those sad soggy herbs from the dead… And voila. Lazarus pesto was born, and the guinea pig sulked a little, because he normally gets the ropey dead stuff.
I used Sainsburys Basics cashew nuts and gave them a thorough rinse to get all the salt off – find them in the snack aisle of the supermarket rather than the baking aisle, where they will be more expensive. You can substitute them for peanuts, which are also cheap, but give them a good rinse to get rid of all the salt.
Ingredients (made two decent sized jars):
Half a bunch of mint (50g approx)
Half a bunch of basil (50g approx)
Half a bunch of parsley (50g approx)
4 cloves of garlic
100g cashew nuts
Zest and juice of a whole lemon
50g hard strong cheese
100ml oil (I used groundnut, but vegetable or sunflower would work well)
Stuff the herbs in the blender – stalks and all – and pulse them to chop up finely. If you don’t have a blender, my favourite method of chopping herbs is to pop them into a mug and go at them with kitchen scissors – far tidier and easier than fiddling about with a knife!
Finely chop the garlic and nuts (by hand or in the blender) and grate the lemon zest and cheese, and add to the leaves.
Squeeze over the lemon juice and pour over the oil, and mix well to make your pesto. If you like it a little looser, add a splash more oil, or water.
Spoon into clean jars, and top with a thin layer of oil to keep the air out. Pop lids on, and store in the fridge for up to three weeks.
You can use any herbs to make a pesto, and greens too, so don’t worry if you don’t have my magic three. A fresh herb like mint or basil is pretty essential, but rosemary, thyme and parsley make a good winter pesto, and sage and parsley make for a good earthy base for a pasta dish – ideal with softened onions and cheese. I want to try a coriander and lemon pesto too – and judging by the flagging bunch in the fridge, I might just get the chance to..!!
Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe